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Health and Safety with David Wolfenden

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Health and Safety with David Wolfenden

My role is to help prevent accidents and incidents from happening, and if they can’t be prevented, then to limit the impact of any accident or incident.

Accidents cause direct losses to GBN Services; injury to staff, damage to vehicles, etc. Incidents don’t necessarily have direct losses, but they do often have significant indirect losses. Bolts shearing on a loading shovel bucket wear strip and the strip coming loose, is an incident. The loading shovel can’t be used until the wear strip is refitted or replaced, so we lose money by having an expensive bit of kit out of service. The repair or replacement is probably going to be difficult due to the damage cause by the sheared bolts and the loose wear strip, so the loading shovel takes longer to repair and we have to pay more for the repair to be done. So what may seem a small incident can soon add up to a big loss of money.

Incidents generally in different circumstances can become accidents, and generally it is only luck that we have an incident and not an accident. This is why preventing incidents is given the same priority as preventing accidents.

Generally speaking I visit most sites at least fortnightly; many factors actually determine the frequency of my visits. There is no regularity to my visits to sites, sometimes it is at the request of site managers or supervisors, at other times it is to conduct audits and checks of what the site is doing, and sometimes it is to accompany representatives of customers and prospective customers.

One of the important aspects of my role is the creation of standards, policies, processes and procedures for stating how GBN Services runs tasks. These can be mind-numbingly boring to write and develop, but they play a vital role in defining GBN‘s expectations. It is these documents that form our company management system, and it our compliance with these documents that is audited by independent companies. By complying with the documentation, and passing our audits, we gain and maintain our certification. Currently we are certified as compliant with Occupational Health and Safety (BS 18001). We are also certified as compliant with Quality Management (ISO 9001), Environmental Management (ISO 14001) and with the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS).

At GBN Services I have integrated the standards for Quality, Environmental, H&S, and FORS into a single Company Management System. This provides us with a single document outlining how we manage as a company, and makes compliance much easier.

A very important part of my role is standing around watching what is happening and talking to everyone about their role and tasks. In this way I am better able to understand why tasks are performed in certain ways, and what the intended outcome of the work is. If I see a job or task that is not as safe as it should be, by having a good understanding of job or task enables me to help drive forwards improvements that are beneficial and assist with meeting the end goal of the task.

Since joining GBN Services as the Group H&S Manager, my role has expanded to include: quality management, environmental management, and staff management. I despise the term Human Resources (HR) as this seems to reduce people to mere numbers. I strongly believe that Personnel Management or Staff Management far better describes the role of managers and supervisors in managing people.

Every site has an Action Plan. These are collated from my ad-hoc site visits, my auditing of sites, the outputs from customer audits, outputs from accident/incident investigations and external audits. The Action Plans detail what the issue is that needs to be tackled, what is expected to be done, who is responsible for the action and a time limit for the action to be completed. Putting all the actions into a single document helps local managers by having all their actions in a single document.

When actions are completed they are recorded at the end of the Action Plan so the local manager, and auditors, can see what has already been achieved. From the Action Plans by dividing the outstanding jobs by the whole number of jobs I generate Completion Ratios for each site, so we can compare site completion ratios and have a league table of the sites to try and inspire some competitive activity in getting actions completed.

To help ensure that GBN Services has a companywide approach to how we operate I hold Director / Local Manager meetings at generally 2-monthly intervals. One of the most interesting items on the agenda for these meetings is “What are we proud of?” This gives the local managers an opportunity to say what it is that works well at their depot. We are proud of the external and internal standard of cleanliness of vehicles at many depots, we have some drivers who regularly receive compliments from customers, and we are proud of the efforts our employees but in every day.

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